Friday, July 7, 2017


      Well, this is it. The day is almost here. In just a few hours, I will say goodbye to my family and best friends in order to return to my family and friends. For the past 309 days, I've had the honor of being an exchange student. During that time period, I've stumbled through my second language every day until I came to master it. I've come to know and appreciate a way of living that in some ways is so very different from my own...and that of my native country's. People from all around the world came to hold a very dear place in my heart in such a short amount of time. Of course, I've tried lots of new things this year, tasted some new foods, and have been to places in the world that I only knew before from the Internet. This past year taught me a lot about who I was, who I am, and who I want to be, even if I don't have it all figured out yet. I've learned to live every day to the fullest and to continue to do that even when I am back where everything seems the same. In reality, I have so much to discover in my own country. I've made it through heartbreak and confusion this year when the people I longed to be comforted by the most were across the ocean. I've experienced what it's like, again, to miss someone. I've experienced what it's like to want to help someone but to not be able to because of distance, and that hurt.

      Soon, it will all be over, at least for now. One of the best years of my life will return to what it was two years ago and the years before....a dream. No more playing card games with my friends during break at school, no more funny nicknames going on around for me, no more of my host parents mocking me because I get their language confused, and no more French parties. I will return to my family and friends and to what I used to do before going abroad, and the memories will come back as if no time passed at all. I will soon realize, however, that time has passed. and I have changed. I will come to realize, as I've heard before, that one of the hardest parts about being an exchange student is balancing the two worlds I live in. I will have to adapt again, but this time to things that at last year were so normal, and so hard to let go. And I will have to adapt all while staying true to my self, my new self.

       As I've been preparing to leave, numerous questions have come to mind. How will I greet my family and friends back in the US? What will they say about my exchange year? What do they think I've done the past ten months? Will they like the new me? How many people that I knew before leaving will still be my friends when I get back? What did I miss in my native country while gone for a year?

       I'm about to go now. I'm about to wheel my packed suitcase out that door and walk down the hallway for the last time. Emotion will overcome my pride as I wrap my arms around my new family and friends for the last time and I think of all that I've been through with them. I will get on the train, hoping I made as much of a difference in their lives as they did in mine. The hardest part about saying goodbye to someone is not the actual goodbye, but not knowing when you will see the person again. This year has brought me a lot, taught me a lot, and no matter what happen during from now, I can say one thing about this year....I lived.

Traduction en français:

       Dans quelques heures, je dirai "Au Revoir" à ma famille et mes meilleurs amis pour rentrer dans ma famille et mes meilleurs amis. Ces derniers 309 jours, j'ai été une étudiante étrangère, la meilleure chose qui m'est jamais arrivée. Pendant cette période, je me suis débrouillée dans une langue que je ne connaissais pas beaucoup. J'apprécie maintenant une façon de vivre différente que la mienne, et celle d'où je viens. Des gens qui viennent de n'importe où dans le monde ont une place unique dans mon cœur. Ma famille et mes amis sont partout maintenant. Bien sûr, j'ai essayé plein de nouvelles choses cette année, j'ai goûté de la nouvelle nourriture, et j'ai vu des vues au monde que je connaissais avant que grâce à l'Internet. Cette année m'a beaucoup appris concernant qui j'étais, qui je suis, et qui je voudrais être. J'ai appris à vivre chaque journée le mieux que je peux et à le faire même quand je rentre. J'ai tant de choses à découvrir chez moi. Je m'en suis sortie des moments quand j'avais le cœur brisé et je ne comprenais rien. De plus, tous avec qui je voulais être étaient à 6,000,000 kilomètres de moi. Je me suis rendue compte, de nouveau, de ce que c'est quand quelqu'un te manque.  Cette année, j'étais des fois trop loin d'aider ma famille et mes amis aux États-Unis, et ça m'a fait mal.

      Dans quelques heures, je serai à la fin, au moins pour maintenant. Une des meilleures années de ma vie sera pour une autre fois exactement ce que c'était il y a deux ans, et les ans avant...un rêve. Je ne jouerai plus de jeux de cartes avec mes amis pendant les pauses au lycée, il n'y aura plus de surnoms drôles pour moi, et je ne ferai plus de fêtes à la française. Je vais rentrer dans ma famille naturelle et mes amis et je reprendrai des choses que je faisais avant de partir en France, et les souvenirs viendront comme si je les faisais hier. Je me rendrai compte, quand-même, que le temps s'est passé, et que j'ai changé. Je me rendrai compte que la chose la plus difficile en étant une élève étrangère est le fait que j'ai mon cœur dans deux pays différents. Je vais devoir m'adapter, mais cette fois aux choses que j'avais l'habitude, et le plaisir, de faire il y a un an.

       En me préparant pour mon départ, plusieurs questions viennent à l'esprit. Dans quelle manière dirai-je "Bonjour!" à ceux qui m'attendent à l'aéroport? Qu'est-qu'ils vont dire concernant mon année à l'étranger? Qu'est-ce qu'ils pensent que j'ai fait ces derniers dix mois? Aimeront-ils la nouvelle moi?

      Bientôt, je partirai. Bientôt, je finirai de faire mes valises, et je les mettrai dans la voiture. Je verrai ma maison en France pour la dernière fois. J'e ferai semblant d'être forte, mais mes émois prendront le dessus, surtout quand je fais les derniers câlins et les dernières bises avec ma nouvelle famille et amis et je pense à tout ce que j'ai vécu avec eux. La chose la plus difficile en disant "Au Revoir" n'est pas l'au revoir lui-même, mais le fait de ne pas savoir quand tu seras avec la personne de nouveau. Cette année m'a apporté plein de choses. Peu importe qui se passera dans l'avenir, je peux dire une chose grâce à cette année: J'ai tout fait!

     Below are the links of some videos that past exchange students have made concerning their thoughts about going home. This is how I've tried to prepare myself to go back to the US. I can relate 100%.

Parting Words from a Rotary Youth Exchange Student

Exchange Student About to Leave

Monday, July 3, 2017

My Last Moments Living My Dream

        A childhood dream: to live something completely different than what I was used to, to see new places, to speak a new language. That's all it took to send me far away from almost everything and everyone I knew on August 31st, 2016.

       A childhood dream and the will to succeed was all I held on to during the trying moments of December 26th, and all the other bad hours of my exchange when I could think of almost nothing more agreeable than to be in the presence of my natural family. The language had me fed up, I realized maintaining relationships here was more complicated than I thought, it was hard to find a good balance with communication with those in the US, etc.

      Adult pride is all I have now as I look back on these past ten months and say "They were some of the hardest months of my life, but they were some of the best." I've finally come to accept it.  In just five days, I will go. I will go back to those people who were all I knew that afternoon on August 31st, 2016, tripping over and dropping all of my luggage in the process of going to greet those who will be waiting for me in the airport as French words come out of my mouth, I'm sure.

      All I want these last days is to make the best of it while preparing myself as best I can to go back. That's been my goal all month, and I think I've been pretty successful. Last week was wonderful. My host dad came home for lunch every day, which allowed us to spend time together. Once again, I packed my suitcase all by myself, and almost everything weighed what it was supposed to the first time! (It wasn't that everyone refused to help me. It was just that I wanted to do it alone.) I was a little concerned because everyone had started packing well before me. However, now it's a little annoying because now I am living out of my suitcase a little too early. I hate that but that's what I get for being a wanderlust! 

      Wednesday was different. I went to my friend's house and let them dress me up and put my make-up on, which never really happens. My host dad greeted me at the door with a camera before taking us all to the school dance. I had never gone to the school dance in the US because I found it was a waste of time, especially if you didn't have a date or a big group of friends, but this time I decided to give it a try in a culture where having a boyfriend isn't as emphasized and I am well integrated in my school. I ended up loving it. I heard my friend speak English, as he knew almost all of the songs by heart. (He's usually too concerned about his accent so I never hear him.) My host dad was kind enough to pick us up from the dance despite having to work early the next morning. My friends spent the night at my house, and we had some more memorable moments the next morning. Some of my favorites were waking Elsa up, which took about as long as it usually does for me, and Laurentin's reaction when I gave him a real dollar bill. He said "Oh, thank you!" and then sat down on the bed to analyze it. I then sat down with him to explain everything, such as the president and the sayings, but he knew about it already.

       The day I've been waiting for has finally come! I received the news Thursday that I passed the DELF B1 and B2, which means that not only can I speak French fluently, but I can present and defend my opinion. It is normally a sufficient level for many colleges as well. After five years, I can finally say I have the French level I've always wanted. Of course, that does not stop me from learning new words every day and my desire to get even better. Along with my DELF scores, my host parents forced me to check out my SAT scores. I did better than I thought. My host mom reminds me that I have to take into consideration the fact that I prepared for this test in a few months all by myself while those in the US were probably preparing longer, and not surrounded by their second language.

        I'm expecting this week to be pretty calm, yet emotional. My only special plan before my departure is a day with my friends, as they are more available now because they are finishing up their tests. That will be my final goodbye for many, except for those who will bid their goodbyes at the train station Saturday.